Today’s message will be the ninth in our current series titled “Heaven and Hell”. Since turning our attention to Heaven a few weeks ago, we have learned several details regarding the past, present, and future heavens. Though all three of these heavenly places were/are/will be much more wonderful and pleasant than this fallen world, each has its own unique distinctions. Still we can refer to them collectively by a single name - Heaven.
In most conversations about Heaven there are some common questions that are typically asked. These questions address particular concerns that are of great concern to most people. The Bible provides definitive answers for some of these, is completely silent on others, and gives limited information on the rest that allows for educated speculation.
This morning we are going to ask and answer ten common questions about Heaven. I suspect you have more than just ten questions, but our time together is limited. If you have a question or questions about Heaven (or Hell) that are not covered in today’s sermon feel free to ask me later in person, by text, or by email. I will do my best to provide you with a Biblically supported answer. But for now, let’s deal with these ten. Here we go!
I. WILL PEOPLE HAVE BODIES IN HEAVEN?
25 “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. 26 Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God;” - Job 19:25-26
42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power - 1 Corinthians 15:41-42
I find it quite amazing that Job confidently believed that he would someday see God in his flesh. Bible experts disagree on the exact dates of Job’s life, but almost all place him well before Moses. This means that Job, a patriarch who preceded the law by many years, even at this early date was already theologically confident that he would stand before God bodily. Incredible!
This rudimentary belief is refined in the New Testament teaching of Paul and others. The Bible teaches in multiple places that the body of each believer will someday be resurrected from the grave, be transformed into an imperishable and incorruptible body, and then be reunited with the spirit of the believer in a process called glorification. Thus, all Christians will ultimately abide with God in Heaven bodily - in the flesh - just as Job stated.
II. WILL PEOPLE BE RECOGNIZABLE IN HEAVEN?
Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher). - John 20:16
On the morning Jesus rose from the grave - while in His resurrection body - Mary recognized Him. In the days that followed, many others saw and recognized the resurrected Lord. During the transfiguration, the apostles recognized Moses and Elijah. When King Saul had the spirit of Samuel raised up during a seance, he was recognizable. Following the death of his infant son, King David stated that he would someday see his son again. All of these examples seem to suggest that we will be recognizable to others in Heaven. Our new bodies will be gloriously different and improved, but still somewhat familiar and like our current selves.
III. HOW OLD WILL PEOPLE BE IN HEAVEN?
The Bible does not answer this question. Thus, it is possible that there will be a variety of different ages - including children, teens, adults, and seniors - in Heaven. On the other hand, everyone might be roughly the same age. If so, those who died young on earth would appear older in Heaven and those who died at an old age on earth would appear younger in Heaven. The “same age theory” is the prevailing position held by most Christian scholars. So presumably if everyone is the same age, how old will they be?
I am going to present an educated guess. Jesus died around age 33 and was recognizable after He arose to people who had only known Him for a few years. Thus, His resurrected body was likely about the same age - 30ish. Also, the first man Adam had three children with his wife Eve after the Fall suggesting that he was still young at that point. Thus, he must have been young while living in the Garden of Eden (which I believe to be much like Heaven), before he began aging. Based on these examples, I agree with the many who suggest that all people in Heaven will be young and healthy and around the age of 30.
IV. WILL PEOPLE BE NAKED IN HEAVEN?
He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. - Revelation 3:5
Since Adam and Eve were originally naked in the Garden of Eden before sin entered the world, some have wondered if we will be naked again in Heaven after sin is vanquished from it. There are several verses in the Bible - like the one cited above - that describe the garments of those abiding in Heaven. That said, it seems that people in Heaven will be clothed. The nakedness of Adam and Eve displayed their innocence, but once sin came they needed to be covered. As the redeemed of God now, we are no longer innocent but forgiven. The clothing we wear, even in Heaven, is an enduring reminder of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice at Calvary that covered our sins.
V. WILL PEOPLE EAT IN HEAVEN?
Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.” - Revelation 19:19
The marriage supper of the Lamb is widely believed to take place in Heaven sometime during the last days. If this is the case, what will people be doing during this spectacular supper? Eating of course - in Heaven! In addition to this example, Jesus told His apostles during the Lord’s Supper that He’d drink with them again one day in the Kingdom of God. In Revelation we read of the river of life and tree of life, and are told to drink freely of its waters and presumably to eat of its fruit. I believe that these passages, and perhaps others, are enough to reasonably conclude that eating and drinking in Heaven is quite likely.
VI. WILL PEOPLE HAVE MEMORIES IN HEAVEN?
“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be remembered or come to mind.” - Isaiah 65:17
Two weeks ago, when we discussed the present heaven, one of its attributes was that people retained at least some of their memories. The martyrs of Revelation 6 remembered their deaths and urged the Lord to avenge them. As discussed earlier, people will recognize each other in Heaven which requires the memory of who they are or were. In the future heaven - the New Heavens and New Earth - there is no more pain. Therefore, it seems plausible that all painful memories will be forgotten. Any and all memories that would cause sorrow or grief will be erased and “not come to mind” any more.
VII. WILL PEOPLE BE MARRIED IN HEAVEN?
For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. - Matthew 22:30
Jesus explained to the Sadducees that there would be no marriage in Heaven. That does not mean that former husbands and wives will not know each other. However, their relationship will be different than on earth - perhaps they’ll be close friends. God instituted marriage to provide a suitable helper for the man, to address loneliness, and for procreation. None of these issues will exist in Heaven, so marriage is unnecessary. People will be like angels in the sense that they will not be married to one another. As the church of God, we are the “bride” of Christ and our only “husband” in Heaven will be Jesus Himself.
VIII. WILL THERE BE ANIMALS IN HEAVEN? PETS?
6 And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them. 7 Also the cow and the bear will graze, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. 8 The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den. - Isaiah 11:6
Most Bible scholars believe that the passage above refers to the millennial reign of Christ on earth. Notice the animals live in peace with one another - no predators and prey. If there are animals on earth then, isn’t it reasonable to think they’d continue on into the New Heavens and New Earth? If we accept that the future heaven will be much like God’s original creation, we would have to recognize that animals were present in the Garden of Eden before the Fall. Furthermore, John describes animal like “creatures” many times in his revelation of Heaven. He even describes those riding on horses departing Heaven to bring about persecution on the earth during the Tribulation. While the Bible never indicates whether or not any of these animals are pets, it does strongly suggest that there may be animals in Heaven.
IX. WHAT LANGUAGE WILL PEOPLE SPEAK IN HEAVEN?
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. - 1 Corinthians 13:1
Some have suggested that there is a heavenly language that all redeemed people will speak and understand in the hereafter. The more “charismatic” churches teach that Spirit-filled people will, on occasion, speak in “strange” tongues even now. I don’t discount this possibility. However, Baptists have traditionally understood the gift of tongues as it is described in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost. A literal reading of this passage states that each person heard the apostles preaching in their own native language - not that they were all communicating in a common divine or heavenly language. While the Bible does not directly answer this question, I personally believe that if we speak in our own native language in Heaven others will hear and understand in theirs, and vice versa. The bottom line - we will be able to communicate one way or another.
X. WHAT WILL PEOPLE DO IN HEAVEN?.
There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; - Revelation 22:3
The Bible does not provide a list of all the activities that we will do in Heaven. However, we do know that we will serve God in any number of different ways. We will ever worship Him and praise His holy name. This will not become a mundane or meaningless practice, but rather will be glorious and fulfilling. We will spend eternity growing in our understanding of God - ie, learning more about Him. We will exercise authority over the New Earth, presumably in a similar manner as Adam did in the Garden. Heaven will be a garden paradise filled with wonder, beauty, and many things to keep us busy. We don’t know everything we’ll do in Heaven, but whatever it is will be fabulous!
As we close today’s message, perhaps you have other questions about Heaven that you’d like to ask. As I said during the introduction, feel free to share them with me and I’ll try to find an answer for you. I do hope that the ten questions we just answered have broadened your understanding and appreciation of Heaven. Next week we will conclude our discussion of Heaven as we consider different rewards that believers can receive there.